The Killing Room
Dunne, Feb 2008, $24.95
Already upset that a killer was freed because of either corruption or incompetence in the Procurator’s office, Ministry of Public Security Deputy Section Chief Li Yan is not in the mood to talk to anyone. However Detective Wu tells his superior that the dismembered girl found in the shallow grave near the Summer Palace was not buried alone; upwards of twenty females share a grave with her. The powers that be demand Li fix the mess that was shown internationally as a New York bank CEO was the VIP digger in a sea of body parts.
Shanghai Public Security Serious Crime Squad Deputy chief Mei-Ling is assigned to assist Li, who learns from her that there are eighteen torsos and sixteen heads so far. Li’s on and off Irish girlfriend pathologist Margaret Campbell arrives following the wake of her deceased father. Although the two ladies compete for the affection of Li, the trio works together realizing that someone apparently conducted autopsies on the female victims while they still lived; the cause of death in each case is the autopsy. They know preventing the monster from more killings comes before straightening out their personal relationships.
This excellent Chinese police procedural will please fans of that sub-genre immensely as this is a top rate whodunit in a country in which connections impedes the strong investigation much more so than in the United States where influence gets a great lawyer. The story line is action-packed and the triangle cleverly developed to allow the reader to understand the motivations including personal demons of the investigating team. However, as with THE FOURTH SACRIFICE, the novel belongs to Peter May’s deep insightful look at modern China’s Socialist market economy in which Shanghai is filled with Porches, sex shops, discos and nightclubs standing near traditional mom and pop stores.